I like to travel light, usually limiting my luggage to a laptop bag and a carry-on. Simply. Effectively. I like pretty objects that are practical, good designs that last but that are nonetheless remarkable. One of the things I systematically get asked about when I travel–and I swear it happens every time–is: – Excuse me, but may I ask where you got your bag? – Oh, this bag? (I can see their eyes searching for a known brand tag…) It’s from M0851. – It’s really nice. I love the minimal look. Is it from Tokyo? – Actually no, it’s from Montreal. – Reaaaaally…? That leather looks very expensive… – …But it’s not, seriously… – Looks like you just bought it. – I’ve had this one for close to ten years now… …and the conversation often goes on and on to a point where I feel like an actual M0851 salesperson. And you know what? I always feel this certain pride in “showcasing” a distinctive and such well-made product made in Montreal.
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Montreal’s Golden Mile was where the wealthy families of the city once lived about a century ago. Large mansions, with coach houses for horses and staff, lined stately Sherbrooke Street, from Guy almost to University Street. Sadly, many of these architectural marvels no longer exist, lost to the inevitable march of progress. However, today Sherbrooke Street is home to some of the best shopping in Montreal.Couture fashion labels- Gucci, Hermès, Dior, Escada – share space with prestigious antique dealers and art galleries, where you can buy a Picasso, work from the Group of Seven, a cutting edge piece sure to grow in value, or works from local artist / photographer Amel Chamandy at her gallery.
“Trippy” was how my colleague described them. So I had to go and check out the “big white ball things” in front of Place des Arts and on the esplanade of Place des Festivals. In summer, the area comes alive with water jets, sprinkling people that walk by or completely dousing those who just can’t take the heat. In winter, as I’ve now seen with my own eyes, the public space appears to have been invaded from outer space.
My colleague Brendan Murphy recently posted a blog about Sainte-Catherine Street, as part of his Montreal street profiles series. I have many a fond memory of this vibrant main drag, one in particular includes a time when I flew in from Vancouver (where I used to live) and went to see a Boys to Men concert (they were cool back then) at the Pepsi Forum, which is no longer an arena and hockey home for the Habs but a cinema and retail funhouse. After the show, my girlfriend and I walked from there all the way to Parc Avenue and up to our hotel on Prince Arthur, which is now a dorm for McGill University. At that time there was no Simons department store, Cinéma Banque Scotia was known as the Paramount, and there was no H&M, much less two. In retrospect, it seemed like a really long trek. But that could’ve been in part due to the chunky platform heels I had on. They were cool back then, too – and I guess they’ve finally come back full circle. Anyhow, this is just a tiny example of how much Sainte-Catherine Street has changed since then, and since I moved… / Read More →
I know you’re all super busy returning Christmas presents online, but, when you have a second, here are some of the best New Year’s Eve parties in Montreal…
It was a fun year for The Montreal Buzz as we chased down our favorite rockstars for their sentiments on the city. Whether in town as part of one of the many stellar festivals or touring for new album releases, most artists made time to do a bit of exploring around Montreal and had some great things to say. In random order, here are our ten most memorable musician moments.
We’ve already told you about the best places to go skating in Montreal. But what about all the rest of the winter sports one can do? Your cross-country-skiing, your snowshoeing, your tobogganing and the like? Well, fear not my near-frozen friends, we’ve got you covered there too… A
Stay and Eat over the holidays in these elegant downtown hotel -restaurants Old Montreal is gussied up to its finest, with snowy streets and twinkling lights and all the romance you could ever want. So hunker down in one of the city’s glam hotels and check out the holiday menus at some of the city’s best restaurants, that you can slip into without weathering the wind outside… If I were coming to Montreal for the holidays, I would want to stay at the Hotel St-James, and I would want to eat Christmas dinner at XO, one of Montreal’s top-rated restaurants. The St-James is old-world elegant at any time of year, but over the holidays, the soaring 19th-century roo is in its element.
A Akin to Barney’s and Saks in the U.S., Shoe Mart in the Philippines, Seibu in Japan, El Corte Inglés in Spain, and Selfridges in the U.K.; downtown Montreal has her own fancy department stores. Three major ones are La Maison Ogilvy, The Hudson’s Bay Company, and Holt Renfrew. I encourage shoppers and visitors to visit all of these beautifully historic “cathedrals of commerce” whose turn-of-the-century architecture reinforces the adage, They just don’t build ‘em like they used to.
Montreal’s public farmers’ markets are not only places to do your grocery shopping, but also gathering places for the community. The market is also an ideal place to seek out the ingredients for a traditional or modern holiday feats—Foie Gras half-baked in a terrine is a traditional Christmas treat from the Old Country, and these days, chefs around town like to sass it up with maple syrup, ginger and ice wine.